SALT LAKE CITY — For more than 100 years, the Cathedral of the Madeleine has stood as "a beacon on a hill," drawing the faithful to prayer, offering help to the needy and providing a place for activities that reach the larger community.
"Every cathedral, because of its position in whatever country it’s in, always assumes some dynamic role in the community," said Monsignor Joseph Mayo, rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. "In many areas it’s the arts, and a gathering place of the people. At a lot of European cathedrals you see a big plaza in front of them because that’s where people gather."
The cathedral’s mission is threefold, Msgr. Mayo said: liturgical, educational and social outreach. "The cathedral, doing all of these things, is meant to be a beacon on a hill. The cathedral is about community life, it’s about helping people, and striving for excellence in many different areas."
Liturgically, the Cathedral of the Madeleine tends to offer traditional music, which can be enriched by the pipe organ and choirs, Msgr. Mayo said.
"You really can’t visit the Cathedral unless you’re celebrating the Eucharist. It’s made for the celebration of the liturgy," said the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City.
However, even a casual stroll through the aisles is cause for prayerful reflection, the bishop said. "The Cathedral’s bright colors represent the Garden of Eden. For us, a cathedral is the sacred place where we celebrate the Eucharist, which is the foretaste of Heaven. I would like to encourage people, especially during the school year, to bring the whole family to worship at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. This could be a type of pilgrimage. Liturgy is one of the main ways that we pass on the faith, that we celebrate the faith and that we give thanks for the faith."
The Cathedral also emphasizes education, most obviously through the Madeleine Choir School, an academic institution for grades preK through 8 that is in the tradition of a European choir school.
In the wider community, the Cathedral is known for two annual musical events, the Eccles Organ Festival in the fall and the Madeleine Festival in the spring. Tourists also are drawn to the Cathedral, to pray and to view its artwork.
"The Cathedral is a magnet for people to come to," Msgr. Mayo said. "During the summer we get many buses that pull up – people come here, they’re on tour and they know our Mass schedule. Of course, we have many regular parishioners, but the nature of a cathedral is that it attracts people far and wide."
With its age and continued use, the cathedral requires plenty of maintenance. For example, within the last year a leak in the roof damaged some murals, which had to be repaired. Also, the cathedral bells and pipe organ require regular upkeep.
The Bishop’s Dinner was instituted eight years ago to help raise funds for such work.
"The purpose of the dinner is to call awareness to the ongoing need for people to recognize the beauty of the Cathedral, and to elicit their help and prayers in making the Cathedral viable for generations to come. It’s a monumental effort," Msgr. Mayo said. "It’s the single most important church in the diocese, so hopefully many people will step forward and help us in the best way that they can."
The keynote speaker for this year’s Bishop’s Dinner will be the Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson. The event is scheduled for Sept. 20, starting at 6 p.m. at the Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main St., Salt Lake City. For reservations, call Laurel Dokos, 801-328-8941 ext. 108 or email@example.com.